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What’s it like when 1,000 Google Glass owners converge? Strange, but no nightmare

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The first one I spotted was a lumbering man with blue hair, an oversized t-shirt, and Crocs. A Glasser. Like a monocle from the future, it’s clear plastic screen covered part of his right eye.

He walked around aimlessly, looking at the ceiling, floor, and Googley decorations in the Moscone Center with rapt attention, as if wearing Glass changed the entire world around him. Occasionally he’d put his hand to the white, robotronic side of his face and swipe it, or press a button. It looked like he was taking pictures of everything.

And then I noticed another Glass wearer. Then another. Then a group of them. Coming to Google I/O this year felt like wandering into a cyborg apocalypse. There are 6,000 attendees, and somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 of them are infected with Glass. There were always a few of them in sight, and like a thousand little eyes of Sauron, their cameras peered about, potentially snapping pictures of anything and everything.

Google I/O is a sanctuary for Glass owners – a place where this small sub-species of humanity can be treated like anyone else. The outside world, we learned, can be a little strange for the newly Glassed.

Google Glass from the side

Brian Klug (@nerdtalker) from Anandtech bought his Glass in gray, he said, because it’s the least conspicuous color. Though far less obvious than Geordi La Forge’s visor from Star Trek, Glass still stands out in a crowd. Buy it in bright blue, white, or an even bolder color, and it’s impossible to miss.

“On my way back from the station the other day, a couple of old ladies asked me “Hey, is that the Google Glass? How is it? What does it do?” said Harkeerat Toor, an Android developer at Kiefer Consulting. “It’s a nice way to strike up a conversation. But you get stares when you’re on the bus. People will look at you and do a double take,” So should you really wear it everywhere? ”I’m still a little bit skeptical. I think maybe [you can wear it] in places you’re familiar with. Like I wouldn’t mind wearing it at work. That would be cool. I don’t know about just walking down the street.”

“If I have to spy, I could do a better job with my phone than wearing the Glass.”

Another I/O attendee told us that homeless people were posing for him, hoping to get money. Odder still, Tejas Lagvankar, a software developer who has had Glass for a few weeks, accidentally caused a scene while he was just trying to shop.

“I was at the grocery store and the employees were not comfortable with me wearing Glass,” said Lagvankar. “They were kind of uncomfortable and I had to explain it to them. They asked me “Are you recording anything?” and “Why are you wearing that?” The good thing is that after the employees brought it up, a lot of people gathered around and I had a chance to talk with them and explain it.”

Google Glass wearer Tejas

Tejas Lagvankar, a software developer

The suspicion, Lagvankar felt, was unwarranted.

“If I have to spy, I could do a better job with my phone than wearing the Glass,” he explained. “By putting the Glass there, I’m making it more obvious that there’s a camera right there. There are spying apps on your phone, which actually make your phone look like it’s in sleep mode while it’s capturing video. It’s just a matter of people being aware of these things.”

Despite the sometimes-unwanted attention Glass provokes, most adopters say they’re getting used to it.

Next page: The Good and Bad of Glass

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